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Are you struggling with working from home?
I totally get it. When I first started working from home it was a struggle, to say the least. Two of the major things I had difficulty with were (1) feeling isolated and (2) feeling like my life was turned upside down.
Coping with this was a process, but I slowly figured out ways to overcome these challenges and I want to share them with you. Because I know many of you are at home now due to COVID-19, and whether you are working or not it can be a huge adjustment.
For instance, I was already working from home after working as a school psychologist for 11 years. Then as soon as I felt somewhat adjusted, COVID-19 comes along and made me feel like I entered the Twilight Zone. I’m sure you can relate!
However, what I have found is that the key to staying sane during this not so normal time is routine.
I know you’re thinking this doesn’t sound exciting or mind-blowing.
But, whether you like to admit it or not your mind craves consistency. And science backs this up, showing that routines can help to alleviate stress and anxiety, can lessen depression, and can boost your mood.
Routine can also help you to maintain your physical health during stressful times.
Here are some tips to get started:
How to Create a Routine for Working from Home
1. Morning Routine.
What you do in the morning can have a huge impact on the rest of your day. So, create a morning routine that helps you to feel positive and energized.
This could include exercise, taking time to read, writing in a gratitude journal, make a to-do list of the things you want to get done today.
If you can, try to avoid using your phone first thing in the morning. Research has found that smartphone use is linked to increased anxiety and depression. So, maybe at least try to keep the first 30 minutes to an hour of your day phone-free (I know this is harder than it sounds, but it will be worth it).
2. Create a Routine for Your Day.
Set a routine as if you are going into work, with a regular start time, finish time, and a structure for your day.
Yes, this means you should take a shower and get dressed as if you were going to leave for work. Actually getting ready instead of staying in pajamas will help you feel mentally prepared and motivated to be productive. Yes, I wear a t-shirt and jeans, but at least it’s not pajamas ?
You will also want to write down what tasks you want to complete that day. I like to write down these tasks early in the morning before my day gets sidetracked.
If you have kids, your routine will look much different. Like, maybe only getting one or two things a day done. But, even with my daughter home we still try to keep to a schedule so that we get schoolwork done, eat meals together, and get time outside.
3. Use a Time Management Technique
There are a lot of useful time management techniques, but one of the most effective is the Pomodoro technique. It helps me to be productive when planning and working.
The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique where you break down all of your tasks into 25 minute focused blocks of time. By doing this you will get more done in less time, will improve your mental sharpness, and will see better results.
Free Pomodoro Task Tracker:
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4. Create a Working Space – or Two.
Working from home inevitably means you’ll be distracted. Dirty dishes, laundry, a mess of toys and belongings can all get in the way of your focus and productivity.
To combat this, make sure you have an allocated space for work that you can keep free from distractions. Maybe you have an office and can keep it organized, or at least free of your kid’s belongings. Or, if you have a space in your kitchen where you can set up your laptop, make that a “work only” zone.
When your kids are home you may have to get creative and distractions WILL happen. But, if you at least have a space to designate as a working space you will feel more productive.
5. Go Outside at Least Once a Day.
Another activity to fit into your working at home routine is to go outside at least once a day. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, and sunshine. If you are in isolation, go out to your yard or walk up and down your driveway or go out onto your balcony and enjoy the fresh air. Try to do this regularly throughout the day. Just the change of scenery can be great for your mood.
6. Check-in with Friends and Family.
Being at home can sometimes be isolating. So, even if you can’t meet up with your friends or family in person you can still call them, video chat, or text.
I’ve also found that Facebook groups really help me to feel more connected to others. There are groups for every interest or you could start your own! Try to make connecting with others part of your daily routine.
7. Support your Community While Working from Home.
This may not be something you can do on a daily basis, but supporting your community or a cause can help you to feel more involved and purposeful. Think about how you can serve someone today and impact them in a meaningful way.
For example, during COVID-19 some ways that you can help include: call a neighbor and see if they need any groceries while you are at the store, make a donation to your food pantry, make masks for those on the front lines, donate blood, organize a neighborhood food drive, foster a pet, or check out volunteermatch.org for virtual volunteer opportunities. There are so many ways you can make a difference.
Takeaways from Working at Home
I hope these tips are helpful to you while working from home. Truthfully, some days I feel super productive and other days I’m not even sure what day it is. But, I feel like having a routine really does help to adjust to new situations. I read this quote yesterday, and I feel like it means a lot during this time:
I hope these tips are helpful to you! Do you have a routine that works well for you? Let me know in the comments!